UWS Enrollment Numbers Reject Local + National Trends
Something is going on at the University of Wisconsin-Superior and it runs contrary to local and national trends. While the majority of colleges and universities across the nation - including the three "other" big schools in the Twin Ports - have seen enrollment numbers drop over the last year, enrollment at UWS is up from 2020.
Additionally, that positive growth in enrollment for UWS is part of a general pattern for the university of steady enrollment numbers, even as local trends have seen a general trend downwards for the remaining schools (University of Minnesota-Duluth, Saint Scholastica, and Lake Superior College).
According to data shared by the Superior Telegram, UWS is on track to have positive enrollment growth for 2021:
"By more than one measure, the University of Wisconsin-Superior, the smallest of the four schools [locally], has proven to stand apart from regional and national trends. The school's enrollment total increased by nearly 1% this year to about 2,580 students, just shy of where that number stood in 2019."
At the same time, UWS has "Managed to continue enrolling a student body that's made up of 45% first-generation students".
In contrast, UMD, St, Scholastica, and Lake Superior College each saw a slide in enrollment numbers over the last year. For some of those institutions, that decrease is an overall general trend that started around five years ago. Here's a general breakdown of the four schools, with numbers from the last five years:
- 2021: 2582
- 2020: 2559
- 2019: 2608
- 2018: 2601
- 2017: 2590
- 2021: 9884
- 2020: 10275
- 2019: 10858
- 2018: 11040
- 2017: 11168
- 2021: 3512
- 2020: 3735
- 2019: 3906
- 2018: 4043
- 2017: 4235
Lake Superior College
- 2021: 2774
- 2020: 3096
- 2019: 3122
- 2018: 3146
- 2017: 3160
Whether enrollment is up or down at the four schools, one a variety of common factors is driving those numbers. High demand for labor in the current job market and the trend towards employers paying higher-than-usual wages to attract employees has had a definite affect on college enrollment numbers. According to Lake Superior College spokesperson Daniel Fanning:
"Some of those students who just weren't quite sure if they wanted to do the online courses or not, or just weren't sure with some of the uncertainty, a lot of them are taking that gap year, which has turned into a couple gap years. Some of them are working for $15-20 an hour because that's kind of the going wage right now."
Many of the students who do choose college are doing do part time; balancing work and school at the same time. "At least 70% of the college's students attend part time, which is higher than usual".
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